About Chiang Mai

Chiang Maisometimes written as "Chiengmai" or "Chiangmai", is the largest and most culturally significant city in northernThailand. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province, a former capital of the Kingdom ofLanna(1296–1768) and was the tributaryKingdom of Chiang Maifrom 1774 until 1939. It is located 700km (435miles) north ofBangkok, among the highest mountains in the country. The city is along thePing River, a major tributary of theChao Phraya River. Chiang Mai means "new city" and was so-named because it was the new capital, founded in 1296, succeedingChiang Rai(founded 1262) in the capital of the Lanna kingdom.

Chiang mai is well known as a centre for arts and culture, both traditional and modern, with an abundance of music and dance, celebrations, ceremonies and festivals. Personally tailored tours, with a private car and tour guide, to elephant camps, handicraft centres, antique shops and other places of interest may be arranged. Foreign language speaking tour guides can be arranged for you, to make the trip that extra bit special.

In recent years, Chiang Mai has become an increasingly modern city and has been attracting over 5 million visitors each year, of which between 1.4 million and 2 million are foreign tourists (depending on the year).

Chiang Mai gained prominence in the political sphere in May 2006, when theChiang Mai Initiativewas concluded here between theASEANnations and the "+3" countries (China, Japan, andSouth Korea). Chiang Mai was one of three Thai cities contending for Thailand's bid to host the WorldExpo 2020(the others were Chon Buri and Ayutthaya).However, Ayutthaya was the city chosen by the Thai Parliament to register for the international competition.

It has also recently positioned itself to become aCreative City, and is considering applying for Creative City Status withUNESCO.Chiang Mai is one of twotourist destinations in ThailandonTripAdvisor's list of "25 Best Destinations in the World", where it stands in place 24.

Chiang Mai's historic importance is derived from its close proximity to the Ping River and major trading routes.

While officially the city (the saban nakhon) of Chiang Mai only covers most parts of the Mueang Chiang Mai districtwith a population of 160,000, the urban sprawl of the city now extends into several neighboring districts. ThisChiang Mai Metropolitan Areahas a population of nearly one million people, more than half the total ofChiang Mai Province.

The city is subdivided into fourwards(khwaeng): Nakhon Ping, Srivijaya, Mengrai, and Kawila. The first three are on the west bank of the Ping River, and Kawila is located on the east bank. Nakhon Ping district comprises the north side of the city. Srivijaya, Mengrai, and Kawila consist of the west, south, and east respectively. The city center—within the city walls—is mostly within Srivijaya ward.


KingMengraifounded the city of Chiang Mai (meaning "new city") in 1296 on the location of an older city of theLawa peoplecalled Wiang Nopburi.Chiang Mai succeededChiang Raias the capital of the Lanna kingdom. The ruler was known as theChao. The city was surrounded by amoatand adefensive wall, since nearbyBurmawas a constant threat as well as the armies of theMongol Empirewhich only decades earlier had conquered most ofYunnan, China.

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